In 1989, when communism had collapsed in Eastern Europe, I was 7 years old. Early years of my childhood were in communism – and I have surprisingly many memories from those times. I’m still trying to understand things related to that period – talking to people that had lived back then, reading a lot, and trying to see places that speak about this part of recent history. Because although they have many things in common, countries from Eastern Europe have passed through those years differently. Here are a few places that have taught me new, interesting things – places from Germany, Polland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania that, in my opinion, worth seeing.
„Why was communism do bad?” I was recently asked by a young person – and I realized that, for many people of nowadays, what we tell about those times sounds almost unreal. I am among the last generations born in communism and grown up in democracy and even I am still trying to understand things – and all the places below helped me in this direction. If you get there, hope you will find useful and intersting information, also.
DDR Museum from Berlin
One of Berlin’s most popular museums, it’s a highly accurate, detailed presentation of everyday life in Eastern Germany. We smiled few times – seemed like seeing our childhood again. It’s an interactive museum, you can touch, feel, understand the past using modern techniques. It’s recent history said in an attractive, dynamic way – certainly a must if you get to Berlin. More about the museum on their website, HERE
STASI Museum from Berlin
We had spent here almost four hours – if you want to understand deeper what the political police meant in communism you must visit this place. It’s located where Ministry for State Security had functioned, lot of technique used back then is exposed, documents and very many interesting information, also. The offices of Erich Mielke, who had run the Ministry for State Security, are preserved in their original condition and form the centrepiece of the historic site. More about the museum on their website, HERE
It’s a highly emotional experience – you will find many information there, historical dates, pictures also, you can see the guard towers where those who wanted to pass on the other side of the wall were shot from. You will also find pictures and emotional stories of some of those who died in here. You simply feel the heart of the place, the history and the emotion – and you are grateful for having the chance of living another times, of having known the life in democracy. It’s a symbol of Germany and Communism itself – you can’t miss it if you get to Berlin.
Communism Museum in Prague
It’s located in the new center of the town – we have turned around a little bit till we could find the entrance. Where you can see a huge Lenin statue – and inside a whole era, including a small shop restored as in those times or a small classroom, also. I remembered the old wooden desks, for instance – just like those in my first grade. Useful information about daily life, politics, history, sports, economics, education, propaganda in the media, the army, the police and many more can be found here. More about the museum on their website, HERE
Communism Museum in Warsaw
A lot of everyday life in communist Poland can be found in here – with many explanations from a large variety of fields – education, housing, sports, travelling, rationalized food, industry, cars, medical assistance, fashion, political police, censorship. Various electronics used in the area are exposed, hygiene products, suitcases, clothes, even a small apartment and an office are recreated with everything inside – I laughed with my mother when we had seen the glass fish, the famous trinket you could find in almost every communist apartment. You can also buy things that remind you of that period, if you have lived back then – my parents had actually seen again half of their life. More about the museum on their website, HERE
Pawiak Museum in Warsaw
It’s also a highly emotional place to visit – political prisoners were imprisoned in here. It is estimated that about 100,000 prisoners passed through Pawiak, of whom nearly 37,000 were shot, and about 60,000 sent to concentration camps and forced labour. On 21 August 1944, the Germans blew up almost the entire prison complex. Today, the museum is located in the surviving prison blocks VII and VIII. The exhibition is made up of the prison corridor in block VII and five cells, including quarantine and death cells, which were reconstructed according to drawings, descriptions and accounts of prisoners. At the exhibition you will also see original equipment, poems, diaries, secret messages, calendars as well as various small items made by prisoners. More about the museum on their website, HERE
Germany History Museum in Bonn
It’s not about Eastern Germany only – but it is one of the most interesting museums I had ever seen, take yourself a few hours to see it, it’s worth. Besides other very interesting information, you will find in here a comparison between Eastern and Western Germany step by step, for every period, with a lot of information, pictures and videos – it’s remarkable how many original documents, objects, photos and videos were kept and can be seen. It was a surprise for us – could not imagine it would be so complex, it’s fascinating and a must see, for sure. More about the museum on their website, HERE
Museum of Trade in Bratislava
Not about the communism only – but you will find in here a lot of things from that era. It’s worth seeing it if you are around – it’s an interesting mixture, and people who had lived those times will recognize some of the things that were part of their everyday life. More about the museum on their website, HERE
Sighet Memorial in Romania
Former communist prison, it’s the place where the political, intellectual and religious elite was imprisoned. The detention conditions were extremely cruel, prisoners were tortured and many of them died. The original cells are kept, you will find here a lot of information about those times, pictures, old objects and so much emotion – it’s the story of brilliant minds who had the courage to think different and were simply exterminated by the communist regime. I’ve seen the place a few times already, with the same emotion every time, and I would still go – of course I’m subjective, it’s a very important part of my country’s history, but a lot of visitors come here every year, foreigners especially – it’s a highly valuable lesson of recent history, for sure. More about the museum on their website, HERE
Romanian House of Parliament
The building was built at the order of the former communist Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, in a period when Romanian population suffered a lot of economic deprivation – rationalized food, heat and electricity, almost nothing in shops, crisis of everything necessary to everyday life. The building has an area of 365,000 square meters and occupies in the World Book of Records the first place in the world in terms of administrative buildings (for civil use), respectively the third place in the world in terms of volume; is the heaviest and most expensive in the world. More about it on their website, HERE
PHOTOS FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVE
Do you know a very special place? A place where things are made with love, from heart, with good skills, respect and lot of care? A place with a story and with a heart beyond it? Tell me about it and let’s tell the others its beautiful story. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.